Ultimation’s Cory Meisel helps customers implement warehouse robot projects and integrate them with their overall material handling systems. Here are Cory’s tips for a safe, smooth rollout of an AMR (Autonomous Mobile Robot) project:
- Practice safe lifting; bend your knees: Warehouse robots are great, and in general they work best with the loads on a low center of gravity. AMRs help your warehouse team work more efficiently by reducing their need to walk. But when workers are loading and unloading AMRs manually, this can create a problem. Remember to practice safe lifting techniques which includes lifting with your legs and not with your back. Consider how the AMR will be loaded and unloaded. Can it automatically transfer the load to a conveyor where the product can then be presented to the operator at a better height? Can the AMR be fitted with the correct height upper module like these Nord Module units? Always consider ergonomics carefully with any warehouse robot implementation project.
- Watch your head: The advanced LiDAR sensors and AI programs that AMRs use make them fully autonomous. They have outstanding ability to identify and detect objects in their path to adjust accordingly. One think they do not have is eyes on the top of their head. If the AMR load extends upward or outward, consider the possible paths that might cause trouble. You can set up ‘no entry’ zones where an AMR load might touch on an overhanging protrusion. Does your workplace have a forklift with tines? If so, be sure they are always at floor level. Just like their human counterparts, forklifts left with tines (forks) in a partially raised position represent a danger point for both AMRs and humans alike.
- Socialize your team: AMRs and your team members can occupy the same warehouse space without any issues. Their motion sound devices make them easy to hear and their lights make them easy to see. They will always avoid humans and stop if anyone is in their path. One thing to keep in mind is that it is important for your team and visitors to know they are sharing space with AMRs. Do not let team members wear audio devices that cover both ears.
- It is not an Uber: Depending on the payload of your AMR, it may have lots of carrying capacity, but that is not to confuse it with a ride sharing program. Riding on an AMR at any time is a very bad idea. AMR’s can start and stop quickly while also making sharp turns, making it dangerous for anyone to ride on top of them. Develop policies to ensure that everyone knows the rules.
- Mind the gap: Ultimation’s team will help you to do a site survey to identify any danger zones where an AMR should not be going. It is easy to program “no entry zones” to keep your warehouse robot out of harm. Unlike the robotic vacuums you have at home, AMRs do not have edge detection that would stop them falling down an open pit or stairway. AMRs are also not able to do floor transfer, meaning it cannot go on an elevator and take product from one floor to another.
Following these simple steps will allow for an easy transition as you plan for your warehouse robot launch. They are fast to implement, flexible to adapt and a great compliment to the material handling system of a well-run warehouse. Want the full story on warehouse robots and top modules? Here’s a link to more information to get you started.